Meet the Team: Julia Smith, Director, INN Labs

A number of people sit on a sectional couch underneath a projection screen.
Julia, second from left, participated in a data journalism panel during the Walkley Storyology conference last summer.

In part 3 of our "Meet the Team" series, we'll get to know Julia Smith, our awesome director!

Julia joined the team in February of 2016 as our design lead, stepped in full-force as acting director in February, and now guides us all with her fearless leadership.

Julia is a data journalist and technologist who has experience in news design and software development in addition to agency experience. She joined us in 2016 from the Center for Investigative Reporting, where she was a Knight-Mozilla Fellow and news application developer.

And, that's not all! Her work has also been recognized with an IRE Philip Meyer Award and a NATAS Emmy Award for New Approaches in Current News Coverage. Her editorial work has appeared in National Geographic, Reveal, The Chicago Reporter, and The Omaha World-Herald.

Here's some lesser-known facts about Julia, in her own words:

Where are you from?

Omaha, Nebraska.

How long have you been at INN?

1 year, 4 months.

What's your title and what do you do?

Director, INN Labs – I lead this (fabulous!) team, provide direction on product development and client projects, and still do a bit of coding.

What's your favorite part of your job?

Developing innovative products that lay the foundation for independent news orgs to present their best work online.

Where do you get your news?

Podcasts from NPR, Reveal, NYTimes; Twitter for general news from Axios, Washington Post, ProPublica, local sources; Print subscriptions for Bitch Media and the Sunday Omaha World-Herald.

Who or what inspires you?


What are your hobbies outside of work?

I enjoy visiting museums, playing piano, and searching for the best sour beers.

What's your favorite part of working remotely?

The flexibility to work from anywhere.

What's your favorite or most unusual place you've worked from?

Most unusual: the backseat of a moving Subaru somewhere on I-29 between Omaha and Kansas City.

Favorite place: Oakland, CA.

What's your Myers-Briggs personality type?


Favorite kind of pie?

Apple – not at all exciting but totally delicious.

What cartoon character would you be?

Schroeder from Peanuts.

If you could have a super power, what would it be?

Time travel.

Are you a dog or cat person?

Dogs, definitely. Kittens are cute from a distance.

Favorite album or book?

Lateralus (Tool).

Favorite place you've traveled to?

Queenstown, NZ – it's super beautiful.

Most recently used gif?

A woman dramatically turns to face the camera, and points at you. She speaks, and as she does so, words appear in the background: YOU GOT THIS.

Describe yourself in 5 emojis or less.